There are a number of important reasons for why you should be blogging. It is an essential tool for the modern marketeer,and if you are not using a blog to regularly communicate with your marketplace, you are almost certainly allowing new business to pass you by.
Blogging – A Brief History
A blog is a discussion or informational web site and consists of discrete entries (“posts”), usually with a common theme that drives the content.
Initially, blogs were adopted by media outlets, universities, think tanks, interest groups and similar institutions as a source for fresh and topical thought and knowledge. A key but non-essential feature of a blog is that it opens up a forum for discussion by allowing the readers to share back their thoughts and views through a commenting system.
Increasingly, and with the advent of blogging software that made it easy for non-technical users to regularly post content, blogs have been adopted by subject enthusiasts in bedrooms to corporates, all wanting to share their experiences, knowledge and expertise.
On 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence. On 13 October 2012, there were around 77 million Tumblr and 56.6 million WordPress blogs in existence worldwide. (source wikipedia)
What Are The Benefits of Blogging?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Strategy
A blog is a very cost effective tool for driving traffic to your web site. Having a well written, informative blog that links to your web site will help to boost the page ranking of your web site and, because a blog is updated regularly, search engines take more notice of it, so they check back regularly to keep updated with your new content, so a blog really is an essentially component to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy.
Impress Your Customers
Your blog gives you a perfect platform to ‘show off’ your industry knowledge, expertise, services and products. By sharing your knowledge and expertise in public, potential customers gain confidence in your company or brand and are more likely to shortlist you when it comes to choosing their supplier.
Just like regular content encourages Search Engines to visit your site more frequently, regularly updated content is also likely to encourage customers to revisit your site too. Keep your customers interested and keep your brand fresh in their minds, so that when it is time for them to make a purchase you are already part of their thought process. Compare this to how much money you would need to spend on traditional advertising to keep your brand fresh in your customers mind!
If you have commenting enabled on your blog then this opens up the potential to engage in direct communication with the customer, giving advice or entering debate into the relevant products or services that you have proved your expertise in. This provides a fantastic opportunity to establish rapport and confidence with your clientele. Getting acquinted with your cilents in this informal forum like environment also gives you an opportunity to evaluate your potential customer, and so field off customers that don’t match the profile you are looking for.
Don’t Get Left Behind
If your competitors are not already blogging you can be sure they will be when they catch on to the promotional benefits that it brings to a business. My advice here is quite simply don’t get left behind, if your competitors are blogging, and you are not, then all the points above will be working in their favour and likely they will start taking a bigger share of your business.
Hopefully now you have a good idea of the benefits a blog can bring to your business and how it can form a part of your marketing strategy.
How to Start Blogging
The good news is that it is easy to start blogging!
Choose a Platform
Each of the platforms has it’s own merits and so while it is not within the scope of this article to do a comparison review, we would encourage you to review the packages offered and make your own decision. If you find this whole space too complex we can assist you. At 201Digital we have a great technical team, so we are able to host our own WordPress blogs, which ultimately gives us total feature and configurability control.
Design / Create a Theme
Once you have selected your blogging platform, you will need to create a theme for the overall design of your blog. Your blogging platform will have a number of paid for and free themes, which you can further customise by changing the colours and the company logo. My advice here, is to keep it simple, and don’t try to mimic the design of your web site. Use your company logo, keep your colours consistent, but your blog should be easy on the eye, look like a blog and focused mainly on the content.
Plan Your Content
You need to plan your content and your content schedule. This is important, because without structure and timescales you may find your blog becomes forgotten and neglected. Not only would it be pointless to have a blog, but you would actually be doing more harm than good having a stale and redundant blog. What would your impression of a company who failed to update their blog for a year be? Too busy? Too lazy? Out of business? Who knows – but it doesn’t give a positive impression.
Create Your Posts
You may need to read a few on-line guides on how to use the Control Panel / Admin section of your chosen blogging platform. Plenty of help and guidance is out there, but essential your control panel will allow you to format your content and when you are happy hit the publish button. Your content will then be public for others to read (and don’t worry you can go back and edit any mistakes).
Monitor Your Comments
You will be able to monitor and moderate incoming comments to your blog through your control panel. It is important that you do so as you could be picking up potential leads here, or you may need to correct some ideas and views that are being expressed.
How To Create and Structure Your Blog Content
Stick to a few simple rules and the results will speak for themselves…
Stick to the 3 I’s: Informal, Informative and Interesting and you’ll go far! You have company web site and no doubt you do all the formal stuff. People have most probably stumbled onto your blog because they have been searching for something on the Internet. How do I…?, How can I…?, Information on… etc. They want to hear from a real person’s perspective and experiences. Talk to the reader with informality and friendliness.
Choose a topic that is educational. We all love to learn something new, get some tips and advice. Don’t be afraid of ‘giving away’ your secrets, be transparent and show the reader that you know your business and your industry.
You would hope that since the reader has found their way on to your blog, they already have an interest in your subject matter, but try to keep your post interesting, share your own experiences and any lessons learnt. Try to structure you content logically, break your content up with mini-headings and try not to be repetitive.
Dont Hard Sell
Nobody likes a hard sell, and if you post is littered with hard sell into your product or services your reader is going to run a mile. You don’t need to hard sell and. You are providing a public service to all your readers, sharing your knowledge and expertise and possibly opening up a forum for discussion. Have a static page on your blog, giving a brief introduction to your company and providing a link through to your company web site. If the reader likes your post and is in the market for some services or products they they have an opportunity to click through to your web site to find out more. The Internet is a huge marketplace and just a small percentage of the number of readers of your blog could equate to an overload of business!